03 October 2012

SENEGAL : Traore's chase for the elusive gold

SEN - Traore's chase for the elusive gold
BARCELONA (Afrobasket Women/FIBA World Championship for Women) - The Senegal women are looking at next year’s Afrobasket Women in Mozambique as a way to get rid of the lingering hangover from their surprise defeat in the Final of the 2011 event to Angola.
A team that Senegal had blown out earlier in the tournament, Angola gained revenge in the title clash, winning 62-54.
The loss was devastating for the Senegalese.
The winners advanced to the Olympics.
Senegal could have played at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Women and gone after one of the five spots on offer for London but instead chose not to participate.
They believed they should have sealed an Olympic spot at the Afrobasket Women in Mali, where they had dominated all the way up to the title game.
Senegal had not only prevailed against Angola on Day 2, but beaten them like a drum, 63-42.
They then cut down every national side in their path to the championship game, getting wins over Nigeria, Guinea, Rwanda, Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
For the 10-time champions of Africa and their leading scorer Astou Traore, the Afrobasket Women title had looked to be a certainty.
But Angola had other ideas.
Traore says it’s time to forget “that bad day [2 October] in Bamako and focus on the future.”
“Everything was going as planned until the final day when things went all wrong,” Traore says to FIBA.com.
“That was not our day to win.”
The loss was harder on Traore than her teammates because she had missed out on the gold-medal triumph of 2009.
She owns three Afrobasket silver medals (2005, ’07 and ’11).
Maybe that elusive gold will come next year because Senegal should have a good team.
“Looking at these young girls [Senegal U18 team] playing well,” Traore says, “it makes us confident for the future and we are going to Mozambique to win that tournament and make it to the World Championship.
“Personally, I will do my best as I have been trying for so long [to win an Afrobasket] and I won’t retire until I win an African championship.
“We are a good team, and with the young players coming up we will become even stronger.”
If they reach Turkey for the 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women?
Finding success there will be harder.
The 31-year-old Traore played at the FIBA World Championship for Women in Brazil six years ago and again in the Czech Republic in 2010.
“When African nations start investing more in infrastructure such as basketball courts and equips teams adequately, then it will be possible to compete and be more balanced against other nations,” she says.
Right now, Traore is focusing on her club duties in Spain, where she is one the few Africans in the Liga Femenina.
Last season, she averaged 17 points and seven rebounds with Soller Bon Dia.
When she agreed terms with Cadi ICG Software in August, the club proclaimed that Traore had a “winning character, aggressiveness on court and experience.”
After the season, Mozambique 2013 will be at the front of her thoughts.
That is where Traore will hope to claim her first gold medal before retiring “in two or three years time.”

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